Employers must check in with employees to ensure their wellbeing, says e3creative founder Jake Welsh – but it’s also vital that employees ask their managers too.
Welsh shared his thoughts at BusinessCloud’s ‘Wellbeing: Unlock your Business Potential’ event with Sports Tours International yesterday.
He and eight other top sporting and business panellists shared their advice with more than 60 people who attended the event.
Welsh, who employs nearly 60 people in his busy Manchester city centre agency, believes that it’s important for employees to return the wellbeing responsibility that employers feel.
“How often do staff members walk up to senior people and ask if they’re ok? They don’t,” he told BusinessCloud.
“It’s always top-down – and in some ways that’s wrong because if the directors are OK, they’ll make other people OK.
“One of the biggest problems with stress, anxiety and depression is it affects your mood and if your directors are in a bad mood, it transfers down.”
Welsh, who co-owns the business with ex-footballer Gary Neville, believes that as the world becomes a more pressurised place businesses need to adapt and have an awareness of workplace wellbeing to thrive.
“People don’t just finish at five o’clock these days, it’s a 24-hour job whether you own a business or work in it,” he said.
“Some companies offer good benefits, some offer adaptable working, some offer a blend. We’re all trying to get to the same point.
“I own a relatively big company, so I always put myself in everyone else’s shoes. My shoulders have become desensitized to pressure so I always try to put myself in their situation. If you look at it that way you’re all right.”
The entrepreneur said e3creative hold monthly ‘cinema Fridays’, which helps brings staff together. He also said the death of a popular colleague Mike Mara, from cancer in 2015, and the creation of the Mara Foundation in his memory, gave everyone in the business a sense of perspective.
Welsh believes tech is a force for bad when it comes to wellbeing as it’s too accessible.
“Apple’s bought out an app for cutting off your phone when you’re driving and I think the minute you walk out of your office your phone should do the same thing,” he said.
“You need to be able to switch off and people really struggle to do that these days. Switching off might not be practical but that’s because we’ve built the world that way and it’s going to get worse.”
Commonwealth boxing champion and former footballer Stacey Copeland (pictured below) takes this idea one step further, saying that it’s not tech that’s good or bad, it’s how people use it.
“Tech isn’t a force for good or bad, tech just is, it’s people that are a force for good or bad,” she said.
“It can’t be good or bad on its own, it’d just be sat there. When we start saying ‘tech is causing this or that’ it’s dangerous because we’re taking accountability away from people.”
Following a successful amateur boxing career where she won the national title and European silver medal, Copeland turned professional and recently became the first British woman ever to win the Commonwealth title.
Because of this, looking after herself physically is no problem – if anything athletes have the problem of pushing their bodies too far, she says.
“It’s about emotional and mental wellbeing for athletes because sport is huge highs and just as deep lows so you need to figure out how to handle those and keep yourself in a good place, which is very similar to business,” she explained.
“I look to my ‘why’ – the reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing. There’s a saying that if you know your why and you’re true to it then the how becomes possible. That’s usually enough to motivate me.”
Chris Bird, chief executive of Sports Tours International, said he was motivated to improve the health and wellbeing of his staff because of his own experiences.
He said he wore a ‘mask’ to hide his mental health problems triggered by the murder of his mother by family doctor Harold Shipman.
Other speakers at the event included Olympic cyclist Joanna Rowsell Shand (pictured above); Phil Jones, managing director, Brother UK; Chris Bird, chief executive, Sports Tours International; Michelle Mellor, founder and MD, Cummins Mellor Group; Russell Feingold, director of CSR, UKFast; David Price, CEO of Health Assured (EAP); and Rachel Clacher, co-founder, Moneypenny.